President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that the U.S. Embassy under attack from protesters in Iraq is “SAFE!” and promised that the country “will be held fully responsible” for any damage or lives lost.
Hundreds protested against the American airstrikes from Sunday, and some tried to break into the embassy located in Baghdad, Iraq. Security personnel used tear gas to prevent anyone from entering, but the protesters caused damage to the building.
“The U.S. Embassy in Iraq is, & has been for hours, SAFE!” Trump tweeted Tuesday afternoon. “Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities.”
“This is not a Warning, it is a Threat,” the American president added. He also cited the situation as “The Anti-Benghazi!” in another tweet, following comments from some liberal pundits calling it Trump’s Benghazi. (Trump Denies He Gave Final Approval For Military Strikes Against Iran, Says No Planes Were In The Air)
….Iran will be held fully responsible for lives lost, or damage incurred, at any of our facilities. They will pay a very BIG PRICE! This is not a Warning, it is a Threat. Happy New Year!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 31, 2019
Those who broke in could be seen smashing windows and security cameras, drawing graffiti on the walls and burning items outside of the building. Shouts of “death to America!” could be heard as well, the Washington Post reported.
Protesters got about 200 meters from the main building and were only separated from the embassy’s security staff by glass windows, the Associated Press reported. As the violence continued, around 100 U.S. Marines were deployed to Baghdad to help with security.
More than 100 U.S. Marines have arrived at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad to bolster security after Iranian-backed militiamen attempted to breach the compound (video: USMC) pic.twitter.com/pxo7RwPUdd
— Lucas Tomlinson (@LucasFoxNews) December 31, 2019
The protests stemmed from five American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria on places controlled by Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iran-backed Iraqi Shia paramilitary group. At least 25 people died and 51 were wounded because of the airstrikes, which are a response to Kataeb Hezbollah’s rocket attacks on US-Iraqi targets, according to CNN.
The embassy was put on lockdown and U.S. ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller was not present during the riots, CNN reported. Many of the protesters were members of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), which is largely made up of Shiite militias.